Let’s Get to Work: Raise your Hand in the Collaboratory

If you were present, raise your hand and say “Here!”

Teachers leading their local unions. “Here!”

Teachers leading in the blogosphere. “Here!”

Teachers challenging local school boards to fund critical education initiatives. “Here!”

If you were present, raise your hand and say “Here!”

Teachers leading their local unions. “Here!”

Teachers leading in the blogosphere. “Here!”

Teachers challenging local school boards to fund critical education initiatives. “Here!”

Teachers representing marginalized families. “Here!”

Teachers running teacher-powered schools. “Here!”

Teachers working to create more equitable schools. “Here!”

Teachers creating student centered schools. “Here!”

Teachers leading the the fight against the erosion of the profession. “Here!”

Now that everyone is here, let’s get to work.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Video: Recorded 7/3/2014

When I attended the Raise Your Hand: Empowered Educators pre-NEA annual meeting, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was exciting to be included. I had a number of suspicions confirmed at the event and I am glad they were. I thought that the NEA was changing in response to the education landscape that has worked to weaken collective action.

Chris Lloyd called for a transformation of the organization into a professional guild. This would mean setting standards for entry to the profession, as well as designing and implementing accountability mechanisms that are responsive to the context of teaching.

Montserrat Garibay, an NBCT, spoke about mobilizing teachers, parents, and the community to save pre-k in her home town.

Daniela Robles called on educators to stop retreating and to begin fighting, collaborating, taking part in the National Board process, and speaking out about teaching.

Most importantly, outgoing President Dennis Van Roekel called on teachers to “Proceed until apprehended.” He framed this call to action in the context of a child’s learning. Children do not ask permission to explore the world. When they see a butterfly, they don’t ask, “Can I chase it?” They go, they do, they learn.

I believe that the NEA is headed in a powerful direction. By including non-members in the event, the Association opened up room for inclusion of new perspectives. I was happy to meet a number of members and non-members who are doing good things for education.

We have an choice when accomplished educators are gathered together. We can smile and pat ourselves on the back for our good work, or we can use the spark of human interaction to create a transformative flame. I don’t know if this opportunity was seized at the event, but it’s up to us now. I want to invite every teacher present at Raise Your Hand: Empowered Educators’ Day to join the <collaboratory< span=””></collaboratory<>movement, and see if we can turn a spark into a fire.

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  • rbarrette

    Great Summary

    Thanks John for putting this summary together.  I enjoyed meeting you at the conference.  Great conversation.  That was my first NEA event as well.  It provided plenty of talking points and great personal stories.  I wonder how those will be translated into action at the grass-roots level of our profession.  So many of us feel the need to change this current system but wonder how we do that from a classroom under the burden of a 10-12 hour work day.  Let’s hope that RHY4ED will provide us that answer.

    • JohnHolland

      Thank you


      A pleasure to meet you as well. Your comment resonates with our recent retreat work where we discussed how to create opportunities for teachers to lead from the classroom, including half and quarter time positions where teachers can work on district, state, federal policy, as well as design and implement structural changes in the design of their school. Poke around the website here and you might hit on a couple ideas to give hope.

  • sharonwright

    Great Info

    Thank you John for putting this quick-read summary together. I was not able to attend, but between your summary and Ariel Sacks’s recent post about the same conference I feel caught up on the important stuff.

    I’m raising my hand — again & constantly — for my students and for myself! What a great way to get fired up for the coming school year.

    Thanks again!

    • JohnHolland

      Thanks Sharon

      Glad our work was helpful. I want to do more than raise my hand though. I want to kick ____ and take attendence.

  • DeidraGammill

    Raise our Hand, Raise our Voice, Raise our Feet & March!

    Although I am an NEA member, I am relatively new to the organization (I joined because it was a requirement to apply for the Teacher Leadership Initiative last year; I knew nothing about the NEA at the time, nor did I realize that Mississippi had a state organization – the Mississippi Association of Educators). So while I attended RYH4ED last week as a member, I am still young enough in my membership to the organization to feel that much of what I heard was “new.”

    Like you, I was inspired and encouraged. I came away with some inspiring ideas and the energy to begin implementing those ideas in my district.

    But I also came away a little concerned. Everyone who spoke at the NEA meetings I attended was preaching to the choir. No teacher has to be convinced that he/she needs a voice in policy or knows what is best for his/her students. It’s important that we join together and draw strength from our collective voice, but if that voice does not leave the convention and remain united, have we accomplished anything but some feel-good rhetoric?

    I suggested, off the cuff, on Thursday, during the opening of the RA, that the 10,000 or so educators gathered in Denver should march on Washington, DC. The energy in the room was palpable, and I can only imagine the change we might see if that energy gathered on the national mall and took our nation to task for the current trends in public education. Currently, I am aware that small groups of teachers are allowed to speak, periodically, in state and national education conversations (conversations with lawmakers and policy writers, not just with other like-minded education groups). But are we, as a profession, given any say in the policies and accountability measures used? I think not.

    I’m not talking about picketing or striking, violence or mayhem. I’m talking about the kind of march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – a march of dedicated, invested professionals who have been disenfranchised and marginalized, who have “taxation without representation” as part of current accountability measures and our high stakes testing culture, who are either seen as money-hungry public servants without the best interest of students OR are seen as glorified babysitters with neither the expertise or ability to lead their own profession. The Civil Rights movement was accomplished person by person, sacrifice by sacrifice. I am not trying to compare the years of discrimination and violence against African Americans with the struggles of teachers. I am, however, suggesting that what worked in the Civil Rights Era might work to change the current landscape of educational policies that hurt teachers and their students. There is power in representation; currently, teachers are given token representation but are still marginalized. A national teacher movement, culminating in a march on Washington, would shine a spotlight on teachers who are dedicated to changing the profession. We must Raise our Hand and Raise our Voice, but if we don’t Raise our Feet and March, I’m not sure how much lasting change we’ll see.